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UK Export Finance

Volume 631: debated on Thursday 23 November 2017

We are putting export finance at the heart of trade promotion by enhancing the financial support available to exporters and smaller companies in their supply chains. This is a new guarantee to banks designed to increase liquidity in the supply chain, improving exporters’ access to capital and enabling their suppliers to fulfil new orders. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor stated yesterday, UK Export Finance will launch a targeted campaign to promote the support they offer to exporters and overseas buyers, as part of the wider GREAT campaign.

Would the Minister agree that supporting British business, especially outside London, is crucial for a successful Brexit? Will he consider visiting my constituency to discuss boosting exports and inward investment for Scotland?

In the few short months my hon. Friend has been a Member, he has proved a doughty campaigner for the whisky industry and the agricultural industry in his patch, and I would be delighted to come along and visit him. I would point out that the Board of Trade has been established across the whole country to promote the interests of regions. We have regional international trade advisers, and they work through the Scottish Government, fully supported by the Department for International Trade.

Berwick-upon-Tweed, Alnwick and Amble now have innovative high-tech software businesses designing unique products that have serious global market potential. Can the Minister confirm that these businesses will be able to access UK export finance to reach into new countries, boost British exports and bring new high-tech jobs into my constituency? He is, of course, welcome to stop off on his way to Scotland.

I would love to go to Berwick-upon-Tweed, and I cannot wait to go. It is absolutely right that UK Export Finance has introduced a number of measures, including passing delegated powers to the high street banks to offer up to £2 million of export credit. It is important that we recognise that this resource is vital to financing exports. My hon. Friend will know from the recent briefing session we held for Members of Parliament that we are keen to engage with all Members of Parliament to see how UK Export Finance can help their constituents.

Can the Minister give an indication of the expressions of interest thus far received from small and medium-sized enterprises, which are now able to access UK export finance through high street banks? Does he believe that that could be promoted to allow SMEs to safely expand?

I will have to get back to the hon. Gentleman on the exact figures, but he is absolutely right to highlight the fact that we need to do more to promote this opportunity for SMEs to get this high street financing through UK Export Finance. To that end, in the Budget, we have allocated an advertising budget in order to be able to promote UK Export Finance.

Some 99% of UK Export Finance spending on energy goes on the most polluting fuels. Does the Minister consider that his Department is exempt from the Government’s commitments under the Paris climate change treaty?

It is perfectly reasonable that the whole Government adhere to the objectives of all the agreements we have undertaken, so no Department would go against any of that. However, I would also point out that we are undertaking financing for offshore wind farms, so we are actually helping to build more carbon-neutral capacity.